Student leaders put their learning into action when they hosted their very first student empowerment summit -- ACCELERATE: Empowering Students of Color for Success.
Leveraging the collaborative work with the Kauffman Foundation and Startland, Piper High’s Black Leaders of America group held the conference on October 1 at the Kauffman Foundation Conference Center in Kansas City, Missouri. Sixty students from Piper High, Bishop Miege, Lawrence High, and Lawrence Free State attended the student-initiated conference’s four sessions focused on intersectionality, mental health, entrepreneurship, and scholarship essay writing. Speakers were all Black professionals from the metro area. The goal was to empower students of color to identify and pursue their interests throughout their high school career.
The impetus for students creating this event was a set of Student Voice & Choice workshops hosted by Kauffman and Startland, a non-profit organization that focuses on developing entrepreneurial mindsets and ventures. Since the summer, two Piper High student representatives -- senior Langston Bassett and junior Jillian Collier -- have been using design thinking to brainstorm ways that students’ voices and choices can be infused into the district’s real world learning initiatives. These students identified that marginalized groups of students need a way to see that their voice, presence, and concerns are valued so that they can leverage their Piper experience into post-secondary fulfillment. Through their leadership positions with the Black Leaders of America group at the high school, they continued to develop this conference as a way to start filling this need.